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Dinosaurs Before Dark

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Dinosaurs Before Dark

Book #

No information




The Knight at Dawn


First Four Adventures

Publication date

July 28, 1992

Time setting

Cretaceous Period

Place setting

Probably Frog Creek, Pennsylvania

Internal Chronology

No information

Dinosaurs Before Dark is the first book in the Magic Tree House series. It was written by Mary Pope Osborne and illusrated by Sal Murdocca. It has sixty-eight pages and ten chapters. It was published and released in 1992 It was re-released by Scholastic Inc. by arrangement with Random House Inc. In 1995. It was printed in the United States.



While walking in the woods close to their home in Frog Creek, Pennsylvania, siblings Jack and Annie come across a mysterious tree house filled with books. When Jack opens a book on dinosaurs and wishes that he could see a pteranodon for real, the tree house takes them back to the time of the dinosaurs.

The two encounter a pteranodon and  Annie lovingly names it "Henry" -- as well as a triceratops and a colony of anatosauruses. Jack also discovers a strange medallion with the letter "M" engraved on it lying on the ground.

When the siblings see a tyrannosaurus rex, they run back to the tree house -- but Jack realizes that he left his backpack and the dinosaur book down in the valley with the anatosauruses. Insisting that the book isn't his to lose, Jack runs back to get it, returning to find the T-rex blocking his path to the tree house. Annie sends Henry the pteranodon to save Jack, who climbs onto the dinosaur's back and is flown back to the tree house. He then finds a book about Pennsylvania and wishes to go there.

The tree house returns them home, where they discover that no time has elapsed since they left. As they walk back to their house, Jack and Annie agree not to tell anyone about what happened, and make plans to return to the tree house tomorrow.


Jack and Annie discover a magical tree house that takes them to the time of dinosaurs.


  1. Into the Woods (1)
  2. The Monster (6)
  3. Where is Here? (13)
  4. Henry (18)
  5. Gold in the Grass (24)
  6. Dinosaur Valley (33)
  7. Ready, Set, Go! (43)
  8. A Giant Shadow (48)
  9. The Amazing Ride (54)
  10. Home Before Dark (61)

Life Begins at Conception

Audio Book

Main article: Dinosaurs Before Dark (audio)

Dinosaurs Before Dark has been put onto a compact disk for people who would rather listen to the story than read it.

Research Guide


One of the covers for Dinosaurs

Main article: Dinosaurs

The non-fiction companion to Dinosaurs Before Dark is the research guide Dinosaurs. It was written by Mary Pope Osborne and Will Osborne and was illustrated by Sal Murdocca. It was published and released in 2000.

Critical Reception

The book was accepted with mostly positive reception. Many people did and still declare it a most read for first chapter book readers. The book is now in almost every library that has children's books in the nation.

Notes on Time and Place setting

  • This is one of a few books in which Jack and Annie travel to the Prehistory, the time before written languages.
  • The various extinct plants and animals Jack and Annie encounter are characteristic of the Cretaceous Period, according to the research guide.
  • While it is never expressly stated where Jack and Annie have landed, it is implied that they traveled only in time and not, and so landed in the Cretaceous Period of Frog Creek, Pennsylvania.
  • At this time in Internal Chronology, Annie is 7 years old and Jack is 8 1/2. This first adventure also occurred during summer.

See Also

External Links

< none - Knights at Dawn >

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